Last year I proudly blogged about Octavia Spencer’s Supporting Actress Oscar win for The Help. Happily, this is the year of milestones and giving major props to the women of color actresses on film in 2012. Making history as the youngest Best Actress Academy Award nominee, newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis has charmed audiences and critics as “Hushpuppy” in Beast of the Southern Wild. At 14 years old, actress Amandla Stenberg is a seasoned veteran of television and film. Amandla broke the color barrier winning the role of “Rue” in The Hunger Games. Starring as the lovely “Bronhilda” in Django Unchained, Kerry Washington turned a milestone with the lead in the ABC hit show, Scandal as the first African-American actress to star in a network drama series in 39 years.
Emayatzy Corinealdi’s feature film debut in Middle of Nowhere earned her a Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. Honored by Women In Film as a Trailblazer, Viola Davis co-starred with Maggie Gyhllenhall in Won’t Back Down. Triple threatTamara Tunie must be the hardest workingwoman in show business. Tamara continued her role as “Melinda Warner” on Law and Order SVU and a film role opposite Oscar nominee Denzel Washington in“Flight”. Ms. Tunie added directing a feature film, See You in September, to a resume that includes Tony Awards for producing Broadway hits, Spring Awakenings and Radio Golf.
Queen Latifah provided the voice of in “Ellie” in Ice Age: Continental Drift, co-starred in A Joyful Noiseand produced the TV remake of Steel Magnolias. Her production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, hasstruck a deal with Netflix for a multiyear licensing deal.
Playing six unique characters in a ring cycle plot about soul reincarnation; Halle Berry joined an A-list actor ensemble in Cloud Atlas directed by Tom Twyker, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski. Octavia Spencer followed up her Best Supporting Oscar win with roles in independent films Smashed and Blues for Willadean. S. Epatha Merkerson played a pivotal role in Best Film Oscar nominee Lincoln and co-produced and directed a documentary film, Contradictions of Fair Hope.
Fierce are these black women in the entertainment industry who have empowered themselves and self-actualize success in front and behind the camera. According to the AFL-CIO, as of July 2012 there were 3,350 black-female actors employed. The next generation of triple threat talents will have to seize every opportunity. For aspiring producers, writers and directors, there is the CBS Diversity Institute, Project Involve, Sundance Producers Lab, ABC Talent Development, NBC Diversity Initiative, Independent Lens and Withoutabox. As Black History Month begins, let’s celebrate the women of color on film who embraced the challenges of directing, producing and diverse on camera roles in milestone achievements of a year past.
“Beloved, you are my sister, you are my daughter, you are my face; you are me.” Toni Morrison
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